Since the dairy cows have had access to quality fodder throughout the year, milkyields have increased significantly from 6 to 16 litres per day during the dry season. The milk provides a valuable source of nutrition and income to the family as the surplus is sold to a local processer, providing a steady year-round income. The farmers have also been trained on how to preserve excessmilkbymaking fermented milk and cottage cheese, especially during the wet season when farmers produce more milk than the processing factory can take. Milk is not the only valuable output from the cows. The farmers make dry compost, as well as generate renewable energy from biogas. The Kaduma family uses the biogas for cooking and lighting. Biogas is not only a much cleaner source of energy, but also saves the environment from deforestation. Biogas production also produces bio-slurry, a wet compost that is very rich in nitrogen. The Kaduma family dries the bio-slurry and stores it for the planting season. As a result of the use the organic fertilizers, vegetable crop yields have increased by 50 per cent. The farmers have also been trained on how to develop tower gardens. Previously farmers would have their vegetable gardens in the wetlands (vinyungu). This is an environmentally harmful and time-consuming practice, as the gardens are a distance away from the home. The information about this project was provided by Sokoine University of Agriculture (Morogoro, Tanzania). The farmers are participating in the on-going research project Up-scaling and Out- scaling Technologies for Enhancing Integrated Dairy Production System in Njombe District, under the Enhancing Pro-poor Innovation for Natural Resource and Agricultural Value Chains Programme.
The Kaduma family in Njombe, southern Tanzania, is building a new pen for their dairy cows. Their three cows and two calves will soon move from their current wooden home into a pen of brick and concrete. The pen is of a quality many small-scale farmers cannot afford. Mr. Kaduma explains, “Before we got the cows we were poor farmers. Our cows have given us what we have today, so we have to treat them as good as the rest of the family.” The family practices integrated farming, an agricultural practice that integrates livestock and crop production. This practice has helped the family to increase milk productivity, as well as improve crop and vegetable yields. Integrated farming can be described as holistic resource management where by-products from cattle become inputs in crop farming. Farmers in 10 villages in Njombe are participating in research projects undertaken by the Sokoine University of Agriculture. Through the projects the small-scale farmers are being trained on how to create synergies between livestock and crop and vegetable production. The fields around the Kaduma homestead are planted with crops such as Irish potatoes, plantain, maize and beans. Some of these are inter-cropped. There is maximum use of available space, with a “tower” vegetable garden and a multi-purpose nursery and timber trees occupying the homestead. Trees and grasses are used as boundaries between different crops. They are used not only as a wind-break and protection against soil erosion and water runoff, but also provide fodder for the cattle. The farmers dry the hay and preserve the grass for cattle fodder in the dry season.